DIRGE IX, erasure of triangles

The violins, piccolos, and violas converse intensely before the oboe interrupts—

flat-lines the tempo, mood shift.

The way a plane abandons sound.


The brass on hold; extraterrestrial high-pitched chanting.

Some sounds affect the crowd.

Some want to awkwardly crawl home.


Plato misspoke.

Wittgenstein misplaced his trousers.

Derrida butters his toast.


Pythagoras had an aversion to beans.

Euclid went mad.

Woolf vanished inside a sentence.


Jilted Sappho gifted her poetry to the ocean for fragment-stone.

Prufrock rolled up his trousers to heal self-inflicted scars.

Stein’s little dog went blind but still knew her.


Penelope finished her shroud for Odysseus, allowing the most handsome suitor to take down her silver hair.

Odysseus clung to Argos, believing he was a god.

Atlas said Enough.


The sun lost her fingers.

Mars no longer longed to be red.

Pluto’s father told him life isn’t fair.


Everyone was playing nice with their hands buried in dirt.

Pretending not to be bored.

Pretending the orchestra caged their suffering.


Canto jounces apple tree branches for fun.

Albee admits he is the one afraid.

Beckett ups the ante.


We’re watching you bandage your Achilles’ heel for tonight’s unraveling.


Ophelia’s long, copper hair flowing under daisies in a photograph.


Those aren’t the right clothes for a curbside funeral, but red suits you.


When the joker hit the keel, the captain sank too many packed in fishing for better chapters.


Some souvenirs aren’t recyclable because chaos reifies us on repeat.


Intentions can’t move triangles because triangles can’t move beliefs; curl methodology.


When you solve the enigma, it ceases to exist.


While we skirted the grid, the puppeteer cut all strings.

Master, why did you do this to me?


So you would dream.

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DIRGE II, the afterlife smells like ghosts [2 dancers]

Everyone slows down and locks the rearview mirror when the ambulance arrives.

Demise crosshatches the body’s sleeves.

How funny I look without skin.

Lacking the memory of other cells, the cell is lonely.

Inconsolable, the violas slip the page.

A gamelan can be ordered on Amazon.

Rumors perforate.

No one called once I gave up color.

It was an exercise in inflection before I straggled here.

Metaphors and allegory atrophied.

I lost my hypothesis, so I opened the divine with a can opener.

I didn’t want to spoil.

Burdens design their own burdening.

I was wiped out from being a pronoun.

There were questionable assumptions.

I’m stranger than before.

Things here don’t hurt so much.

War can’t explain daylight.

It’s your right not to watch.

The field of dandelions is clover—the lover, over.

Events take place in ellipses.

The aftertaste–an echo spilling syntax’s wire cage.

The day job had the subject scathed, teetering off the stage.

There were kinetic misunderstandings—a fallout of composure.

Someone will fill in the blanks later—the laborious paper chain.

We’re going somewhere like trains with no passengers.

The breathtaking panoramic scenery—volumes of photos no one prints or saves.

At the next stop someone might say something like Bedouins read stones, pitched stairs escalate, or the mannequins split our dreams.

Leading a camel to water doesn’t make anyone noble.

Even if we sing in languages we can’t comprehend.

At the next stop I might feel like going home.

Even if I mean everything I don’t remember.

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DIRGE VII, ablation [1 dancer]

I cut my heart out with a kitchen knife

And threw it in the sea at high tide

because it no longer served me.

I built a boat from gnarled driftwood

to look for it–

but it was plunged in the undertow.

I tread the breachway at low tide

praying to find it

sheathed in hazel seaweed.

Gather it back—

the flopping purple jellyfish

hardly pumping–

let its ventricles dry

in the distant winter sun.

At dusk, I placed it  

in the music box the wind broke.

All through night in hushed tones

I implore it

to twirl the miniature ballerina


Come back–

I didn’t mean to run

the car in the garage.

I just might need you–

hinging breath for sound.

Ashamed, I evade the salt pond’s

shimmering mirror

in half-light—

setting the clock back

to another twilight   

when someone held me

against starlight.

Nothing is forever except forever.

Laughter might disappear

the abyss between y 

and z, the ending.

It’s time, finally, to sit

the ghosts down

and tell them everything.

They are afraid for me.

It became so difficult

to breathe.

To find things worth finding.

Then the Book was returned to me.

Crimson stones in my chest

became pages.

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from DIRGE: a ballet for 13 dancers [fragment- hymns]

The planes flew through your chest at high speed because someone called you sky, and you wanted to believe.

Ghost planes with no one onboard except robots counting dollhouse packages—or elegant military birds.

No one had the heart to tell you that light didn’t need us.

The field of yellow buttercups indicated we were all lying.

You’ll remember the hieroglyph tablets, black-plumed ibises.

Ideas of a shining place weren’t imagined in a day.

The afterworld might be a softened spectacle.

I was memorizing something to tell you, but it fell apart.

There were intricate ways to express one thing but no method to account for everything.

The lecture on neuroplasticity didn’t explain why subjects stopped looking for dimensions without air.

Deities should then be removed from the book in the form of a question.

Some of us were living in square houses even though we were circles.

The traveling philosopher reassured things would get better before he and his triangular suitcase fell off the grid.

He didn’t charge us, didn’t covet our cloaks.

His mother was a soprano who died singing an aria to a sold-out audience; she was a circle, he said.     

The director wept for a year, a small ocean.

I haven’t listened to your messages because I can’t remember which room holds objects, what should stay private, how to spell.   

The chorus agrees I’m not sleepwalking underwater but swimming through watercolors without sound.

Peacock blue to yellow, I’ll swim to green, regenerate enthusiasm, a missing organ.

Sleep doesn’t always give back dream.

When you come back, we’ll tango in a slow-motion montage, knowing love isn’t a small boat on a reservoir of promises.

More 911 calls, donations of blood, identifications.   

Heartbreak ensconces eternity.

You missed your appointment with the person who was supposed to help you.

Fatigued from sky, aloof falcons, desperate for a new paradigm.

At night you hold me against the river’s rush and wash my tangled hair.

The chorus circumscribes us, chanting everything could be temporal, even a sequence of fragment-hymns.

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from DIRGE [amplifications]

The composition ruptures, slips.

We staple, glue, and sew, so there is teetering.

Parts of the brain won’t cooperate.

The subject of the story will say no.

Mourning doves need more time.

Talk wanted to talk about itself.

Lilacs became wind.

Confidentiality shattered.

The garden was betrayed for amplified sadness.

It can own you sometimes.

Some of us liked each other.

Some of us wept behind picnic benches.

Voyeurism isn’t always creepy.

The ethical fallout made us very tired.

Prescribed pills were maybe too many.

Spines really have no symmetry.

Seesaws can’t even the score.

Dancers don’t have one leg shorter.

Someone loved before less mattered.

Facts often act factually.

Notes needed notes to understand.

No one should panic.

All the seats recline.

Eager trained dogs dig for survivors.

The moon weeping between arms separates the dead.

Small children know mostly none of this.

Morbidity can only go on so long if we are lucky.

There are no homesick clouds.

No one calls without color.

We’ve forgotten the TV.

By the time you hear this, everything has switched.

We lost the oars.

Eternity might be a corridor of trees.

We’ve voting if this act is over.

On the next page, everyone is gone.

This time wear black.

This time don’t say you’re sorry.

Piano music will fill the strange room with scales.

It’s not all that much.

Some days end before they begin.

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DIRGE: a ballet for 13 dancers [prelude with cellos]

1 dancer [hazel]

I slept in the Book of the Dead and woke with parchment scrolls blooming tired magnolias from my unhinged mouth.

Lugubrious cellos attempted to climb me back to the mud-encrusted, brick floor–but I panicked.

When my thinking can trace some semblance of surface, I might explain.

Some will pigeonhole verbose.

If I erase, the Dreams of the Dead multiply.

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Monday shuffled the rain’s pages, soggy and spent.

Tuesday threw a lifeline to resurrect dreaming.

After this many days of torrential rain and thunderstorm—

the sun’s image fits in a miniature dollhouse’s tiny white frame.

The velvet masquerade would still occur on Saturday; everyone wearing purple.

I sent away for the starter happiness kit, but my credit card was declined because my brain loses its mooring.

You should dead-bolt your front door—the circus is in town.

I apologize that the long-winded letter I sent burst into flames that I meant to be goldfish-orange lilies—

and also, that my “I’m sorry” email infected your hard drive.

Shit happens, but no one was supposed to bleed on shrill speed.

If it were all a mobïus strip—

people like you couldn’t jump off at craggy cliffs with lost seabirds.

What did I take you for on our high-speed chase in summer with all the windows down?

I could do all our math during any unforeseeable traffic delays while rubbernecking.

I assure you I’m qualified to decorate doubt;

that disillusionment hinges with the clock—

spiritual fatigue when one can‘t find more pills.

Love can’t heal everything—but you won’t see that in your social feed.  

Soldiers lie down to drink desert stars because the poison is way too close.

Not everything can be reassembled with industrial glue.

When you make a mistake, fold it in like a watercolor painting—

just don’t chisel the sculpture down to alabaster dust.

There’s a number to call for that, a hotline for a metaphysical fix.

Later, you can return your beliefs C.O.D.

I’ve grown new enchantment from seed.

If/when, pretend—that what we’re waiting for might be worth the gauze bandages.

What do you expect for a dollar?

The paper is soft like a thin cloth, harboring lilacs.

I lost the lines you were waiting for; spent that money on champagne.

It’s the rain’s fault—its breath on the sunflowers

causing the most-pronounced blurriness—

the fog swallowing airplanes.

The snake in the garage eats its tail in private when no one is home.

If we buy the pontoon boat, we’ll be pleasure-laden—

now that you’re reading this—

now that your focus is realigned with hummingbirds.

Frenetically, their thin wings pump in overdrive to keep emerald bellies afloat.

Somewhere a family mourns their lost vacation by the sea,

the barnacled mussel shells their youngest gathers when the tide leaves for sleep.

Without his compact leather briefcase, a man in a stolen country paces a faded, Persian rug.

Someone in a lost city shrugs that none of this matters.

There’s no grand gesture to end any of it.

Now what?

I wasn’t privy to the memo.

I’m preoccupied, growing new hands to conduct a symphony of tangerine.

There is nothing I know inside.

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Distance throws points pointing to the Subject [of Yellow Feathers].

Lost in the sun—a rogue magician feeds finches from a torn sleeve.

This is where the owl lives at night with baby bats after the crickets and tree frogs’ duet plummets.

In the woods, there are no hands to flutter moonbeams.

In summer sunlight, trees arching under cyan blue are liquid stained-glass.

During late-afternoon brutal heat, the weeping willows drink the pond’s moss surface.

Just out of school for summer, impatient children try to catch tadpoles in butterfly nets.

Camouflaged in the oak’s wishbone trunk, the egret waits for the fish that are thirsty for air to catch the exterior like words.

Scientists claim that without a human cerebral cortex, fish can’t cry, but poets knows that their tears fill the oceans.

Yellow snapdragons are wilting in the garden because we’ve forgotten.

Buddha’s terracotta bowed chin and left ear are eternally injured by winter because we can’t find the proper glue. 

The Knight’s Suitcase of Watches drowns his Doppelganger backwards.

Many times the dying want to let go.

If the debacle had been planned properly, we could still do lunch.

There should be a word for someone who blows up consecutive bridges with one damp match.

Fire can be satisfying like a fact.

When you’re looking in the wrong places, it’s time to stop looking.

Compulsive white lying can alleviate boredom [not to mention major hassles], preempt further questioning, and hone the art of fabrication.   

The recently-widowed old man counts his money in the freezer.

Someone who might be me watches him through binoculars.

This time, it’s best for all subjected parties to become fluent in silence.

No one else needs to review your emotional scorecard.

No one fathoms the song I bleed when I relinquish windows.

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I opened the metaphysical with a can opener.

[The puzzle, magical.]

I don’t want to spoil.

[Delay denied the last dandelions.]

I wrote 87 emails but couldn’t hit SEND.

[Events took place in brackets.]

I felt your face with feathers.

[You are stranger than before.]

Gravity shifts the jaw line.

[The afterlife smells like ghosts.]

Hands pry the mouth.

[We atrophy fatigued metaphors.]

Rumors perforate.

[Burdens design their own pain.]

There were kinetic misunderstandings.

[Twenty seven lighters are ready to go.]

War explains daylight.

[It is your right not to watch.]

Google, an odd life coach.

[Time passes.]

The sculpture breaks my dreams.

[Leading a camel to water doesn’t make you noble.]

I mean everything I don’t remember.

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I wanted to go there but I can’t remember—to be with someone lost in the field of wildflowers—that disappeared when I touched a memory that confused the horizon.

The address of the doctor who promised not to cure me but to hide the symptoms—humanize me—was on a paper I lost when I tried to shuffle the lost bits in order, remove the jokers from the deck—forecast the future with stones.

There was a discombobulation of format—the margins ate what I was trying to explain—those hours that blurred the green of early summer.  

I didn’t mean to ruin your parade of secrets by dislocating the afternoon, burying your toy soldiers in dust after you shrouded each in a beautiful sentence.

I couldn’t remember—the name of the song I wanted to hear on the radio while I drove chasing dusk beyond the tallest pines, rotting barns, and small houses.

Because my brain couldn’t connect the dots it used to—and the notes fell off the page before reaching my mouth, weakened from not speaking—I hinged twilight with a paper bag of confetti, jilted syllables.

My hands cracked even after the singing that couldn’t will away the poison I touched while cutting down the pink and magenta peonies I was to bring someone like you—that wilted in the car while I grocery shopped for silence.

I spotted you in the shadows of your poem—and the day before with your flashlight at night between stanzas—trying to illuminate past the bookends of Sunday to Saturday.

I couldn’t say you were afraid with certainty—with the clarity of one walking to an altar built of believed promises.

The movie I was making to excise unpleasant emotions, offer catharsis—eluded.

It was supposed to be in the far distance of old black and white movies and photographs—but kept jumping into color.

Shades of red—fallen rose petals that filled the screen with silk, the cardinal dead in my hand that bled red even after burial, my misplaced, surfacing exasperation–orange embers that burned past February.

Resilient stigmas imbued the purple of bruises, small violets that grew into dark irises, fading into blunted fuchsia.

I wanted to tell you—we could exchange shoes, hats, faces—in the film of forgetting—for a day, maybe a week—that the disappearance didn’t have to hurt so much—that we’ll float this time instead of drown.

There was a melody that punctuated the soundtrack—what we used to want against dominos falling with civilization’s house of cards—the first thought on the breath defined by dreaming.

Thoughts were tangled in my hair I was afraid to wash—that I would lose myself in a painful refrain; the humbling—an avalanche—beyond any first responders.

It’s been so long without a pen or keyboard—my fingers have gone idle with something like melancholy.

I was meaning to write an explication of the days of invisibility—how I stayed up to save myself from falling.

Nauseated from caffeine, I walked a mile just as the birds began singing to usher daylight—to the blind widow’s house to read her love sonnets—but she didn’t recognize my voice and wouldn’t open the door.

I was on my way somewhere else—somewhere I can’t remember—to join a crowd of bystanders, to blend in and not be the subject anymore—

because some meanings were self-fabricated, embroidered (in) syntax—differential, at best—and it looked like rain.

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